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Who Runs the World?: Women in Leadership

It’s 2016: women are outnumbering men in college enrollment, a woman is running for president, and nearly 8 million people are employed by women-owned businesses…That’s right: 8 million!


According to the most recent “State of Women-Owned Businesses” Report, there are nearly 10 million women-owned enterprises, generating over $1.4 trillion in revenue. There are 24 women CEOs in the Fortune 500 and 27 in the Fortune 1000. Over the past nearly two decades, the number of businesses in the U.S. increased by 47%, whereas the number of women-owned firms increased by 68%.


But, it doesn’t stop there. Not only are women increasingly leading businesses, but they’re outshining their average male counterparts! A new study found that women CEOs in the Fortune 1000 drive triple the returns as S&P 500 enterprises led primarily by men.  Although only 5% of Fortune 1000 companies have female CEOs, these women leaders generate 7% of the Fortune 1000’s total revenue!

Here are 6 companies you might not have known were either started or are currently run by women!

1. Cinnabon – From waitressing at Hooters to becoming Vice President, Kat Cole quickly climbed the ranks in the restaurant field through sheer diligence and dedication. After her parents’ divorce forced her to begin working to provide food for her family, Cole became the Jacksonville Hooters franchise’s best employee, traveling the world to open new locations and landing the position of VP at age 26. Without completing her undergraduate degree, she nonetheless earned a spot in Georgia State’s MBA program, and went on to currently serve as Group President of Focus Brands, Chief Operating Officer of its subsidiary, Cinnabon, and a public speaker at worldwide leadership conferences.

2. Orange Theory Fitness – Born from her own personal “Ultimate Workout” and experience and study of exercise physiology, Ellen Latham grew her first Pilates studio in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, into one of the most popular work-out studios across the nation. With over 400 locations across 45 states and 7 countries, OTF was named one of Inc.’s “Fastest-Growing Private Companies” and one of Entrepreneur’s “Top Franchises” in the world.

3. Flikr – If you’ve ever browsed, posted, or shared an image from the popular photo-sharing website Flikr, you have Caterina Fake to thank! Founded in 2002 at the age of 35, Flikr soon dominated the online photo space, and was later sold to Yahoo for $35 million. Now, Caterina works for another website she co-founded – Hunch – and serves on the Board of Directors for Etsy.

4. Eventbrite – While working as a TV Executive in Los Angeles, Julia Hartz became frustrated at the difficulty it took to purchase online tickets. Thus, the easy-to-use and multi-event platform, Eventbrite, was launched! Now operating in 190 countries and headquartered in San Francisco, Eventbrite employs over 500 people and is constantly growing in today’s digital age.

5. Slideshare – Perhaps one of the most useful tools for offices and classrooms alike, Slideshare was co-founded by Rashmi Sinha while she was working on her PhD in cognitive neuropsychology. Slideshare was recently acquired by LinkedIn and now has over 16 million users.

6. Ruth’s Chris Steak House – If you ever wondered where the name for Ruth’s Chris Steak House originated, it was because of Ruth Fertel. After purchasing “Chris Steakhouse” in New Orleans in 1965, Ruth later franchised her own chain of the now world-famous restaurants.

As a woman-owned business, Assessment+ is proud to be among the 10 million+ enterprises changing the deep-rooted stereotypes of leadership in America. While women-owned firms currently comprise over 30% of all enterprises, they are growing faster in number and employment than most other firms, indicating a promising future of even higher figures!